Imatges de pÓgina
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terity, we infer from a contemplation of the supposable
condition of the race as brought by Adam into natural
existence in his own moral position: 1. The moral death
includes in its idea the exclusion of any possible fulfilment
of the moral law from the agent's reach. True, then, to
our axiomatic foundation, we firmly deny that he could be
justly responsible and liable to its penalties. Born under
the law, the law has a right to measure his moral character,
and affirm his anomia, that is, his disconformity to the law,
both in action and in moral condition, but the moment the
law aitempts to inflict the penalty, the rightfulness of its
own action is by itself condemned. Nor can this difficulty
be removed, as we conceive, by any natural or moral ability
supposable in the case. All natural ability is under control
of the volitions; the volitions are under control of the in-
clinations; and those inclinations are controlled by necessi-
tating causations. There is no imaginable ability, therefore,
which relieves the agent from an adamantine necessity,
enclosing him as tightly within his moral evil as a fossil
reptile is imbedded in the solid rock. The agent, therefore,
as tried by the law, is evil, — morally evil; and as all anomia
is sin, his nature and his actions are sinful; and yet he is
not responsible, or justly liable to penalty. 2. Corporeal
death, if it does not preclude birth, includes the idea of dis-
ease, decay, and mortality during a temporary life.
mere nature, this may be justifiable, under a law of com-
pensation; but, as a judicial penalty, we have before shown
that the law has none it can inflict. 3. Eternal death would,
of course, follow, from the very immortality of his nature,
being an immortality of evil — moral death perpetuated. As
a natural process, this cannot be justified; for the evil is
too great for compensation; still less can it be justified
judicially, for still less has the law a penalty it can inflict.
It is this state of condemnation by the law of a race and
nature born under the law, which requires the legal fiction
of imputation to render penalty a nameable thing. Con-
ceptually alone, not literally or truly, can man, in this con-
dition, be said to be guilty, and liable to the judicial penalty

As a

of death, temporal or eternal. It may, at first sight, seem strange, that the divine, like the human law, should deal in legal fiction. But it is no more strange than true. Pardon itself involves a legal fiction. Justification, by a legal fiction, supposes its subject to be innocent, and free from the penalty, and treats him as such who is guilty, and justly liable to the penalty. Justification and imputation are antithetic fictions. The former of mercy, the latter of severity; the former, seeing innocence where there is guilt; the latter, if not seeing guilt where there is innocence, certainly seeing guilt where there is irresponsibility. That fiction, as a basis of penalty, if the race without the atonement were not merely hypothetical, would be a most serious matter, an irreparable injustice in the government of God. Its true use is not fully understood until, subsequently to the redemption, it is introduced to illustrate, by its antithesis of imputed guilt, the principle of imputed innocence under the Redeemer.

The REDEMPTION. The introduction of the Redeemer, sequently upon the fall of man, was not a divine afterthought. By a divine predetermination, conditioned upon that foreseen apostasy, Christ was the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world. In view of the compensations by it afforded, expressions of deeper severity towards sin are made, than otherwise would have taken place. A Redeemer is introduced, who, by a death of infinitely more value than that of Adam and all his race, is entitled to take humanity into his guardianship, and measure out mercy and justice according to the laws of a wise probation : 1. In view of the future atonement, the natural continuity of the human race remains uninterrupted, and a basis is thus afforded for a new system. 2. In view of that same atonement, the Holy Spirit is restored, whereby motives in the direction of spiritual realities may become grounds of action, and their proper improvement may lead to justification and regeneration. Man does not thereby receive any new faculty. He


is not even organically made to be a free agent; for he never ceased to be such ; only spiritual things, and the possibility of pleasing God, are again brought within the reach of his free agency. Nor is the Holy Spirit, nor any other influence, normally so brought to bear upon his free agency as to be irresistible, or secured to be unresisted; since that would be to overwhelm his free agency on the other side. To afford him such aids as render him able to accept salvation without overcoming his ability to reject it, probationarily leaving the decision to his own free will, is the precise law by which the dealings of God with him are now governed. 3. Though, both in the matter of temporal and eternal death, man still remains under liability, so that, by rejection of the Redeemer, he may come under full execution of the primal sentence, yet by the proper exercise of his free will, aided by the Spirit graciously bestowed, in accepting and obeying the Redeemer, he may finally attain a glory through Christ, greater, perhaps, than he lost through Adam.

For a created inclination, necessitated in its character, bad though it be, - morally bad, disconformed to the law,

we are, as before intimated, utterly irresponsible. It may rightfully be called sin, for all anomia is sin; and the man is a sinner, but not a responsible sinner, since for any other than sin there is no power. This arises from our rejection of the maxim, that the law takes no cognizance of the way in which we became possessed of our evil; and our affirmation of the axiom that power for the contrary must underlie all responsible action. On the other hand, inclinations conformed to the law, created necessitatedly within us, without any power of modification in our will, are truly excellent, morally excellent, innocent, and in all these senses, perhaps, properly called holy; yet, they afford no moral desert. They are loveable, but not strictly rewardable. It is not, then, until there is redemptively conferred upon man what we call a gracious ability for the right, that man can strictly be responsible for the wrong. With this inauguration, therefore, upon the redemptive basis, responsibility, and a true and just divine government

become possible. Under the redemptive system, the man is born into the world, from Adam, a depraved being. It is as a depraved being that he becomes an Ego. But instantly after, in the order of nature, he is met by the provisions of the atonement. If he is not thereby immediately, unconditionally justified and regenerated, his death before the commission of actual sin would place him out of the category of condemnation. He is held guiltless until the moment of his responsible agency arrives, and personal sin has subjected him to the personal penalty of the law; and then the forfeiture of the justifying and regenerating influences of the atonement, so far forth as they may be admitted to exist, has brought him into complete responsibility for his

* It is not clear to the present writer that there is in our theology any authoritative and uncontradicted decision of the question of the actual status, in all respects, of the infant under the atonement. That the dying infant is saved, and saved by the atonement, we all agree. But his precise condition, as affected by the atonement, while a living infant, seems to be a somewhat undecided matter. Probably a large majority of the Methodist Episcopal Church have, for some time past, held, without much discussion, that the living infant was both unjustified and unregenerate, and yet upon his death he obtained both blessings. This making death the condition of justification and regeneration appears to many hardly logical, and not without danger. Mr. Wesley's earlier expressions of opinion indicated a holding of the churchly doctrine of baptismal regeneration in infancy. His later indications of opinion indicate that he held all infants to be members of the kingdom of heaven; and he also held that regeneration is a condition to membership in the kingdom of heaven ; but he does not expressly draw the inference that all infants are regenerate. Fletcher maintained the doctrine both of infant justification and regeneration. Dr. Fisk held to infant justification. Our baptismal service first declares, in its Scripture lesson, of infants, that "of such is the kingdom of God”; and yet declares “that none can enter into the kingdom of God unless he be regenerate.” But neither here is the inference expressly drawn. The subject is a matter of calm discussion, and perhaps the number of those holding the doctrine of infant regeneration has decidedly increased. This does not affect the question of depravity through Adam ; since the maintainers of infant regeneration fully affirm that the individual becomes a complete living person depravedly and in Adam; and that the effects of the atonement to justify and regenerate are, in the order of nature, immediately subsequent to the completed personal existence; nor does regeneration in the infant, any more than in the adult, completely abolish the old organic nature, so but that propensities to evil, and full power of complete apostasy, permanently remain. Yet they hold that spiritual culture may, even before the moment of full responsible age, develop the spiritual powers; for the child may pass the line of responsibility an erring and feeble, yet truly regenerate, Christian.

Adamic depravity, which is now fully sanctioned, and appropriated into his own voluntary course of action.

So far as we can see, these statements present the antithesis between our loss through Adam, and our gain through Christ, in full accordance with its presentation by Paul in the fifth chapter of Romans. By the sin of the former, we incur death and judgment unto condemnation, and are made sinners. By the righteousness of the latter, we receive life and justification, are made righteous, attaining a grace much more abundant than the previous sin. And inasmuch as we are made sinners antecedently to the atonement, without the power of being other than sinners, we can be held in that case as responsible sinners only by a conceptual imputation of sin. Under the atonement, that conceptual imputation is continued only as the logical antithesis to the conceptual imputation of righteousness to the guilty through the atoning righteousness of Christ.

RighteousNESS AND GRACE IN THE REDEMPTION. In regard to parts, if not the whole, of the provisions of the redemption, as thus stated, it will be said that they are but provisions of justice and not of grace. If powers were necessary in order to the fulfilment of requirements, God was bound, in righteousness, to grant them; and, in justice, could not withhold them; and they are therefore not gracious. Nevertheless, we hold that such provisions are none the less by grace because by righteousness. Benevolence is the goodness of God exhibited in nature; grace is the goodness of God exhibited in redemption. And as God could not be justified in the works of nature without appealing to the proofs of benevolence, it might be said that “God is bound to furnish that benevolence; and it is therefore no benevolence, but mere righteousness.” Nevertheless, it is none the less benevolence because necessary to justify God's righteousness. The righteousness and the grace are but different views of the same thing.

Thus it may be said that, if God required the exercise of a moral ability, he was bound to grant such ability; it

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